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Ohio Retailers Tackle Tobacco

More than 50 convenience store owners and employees gathered in Springdale, Ohio for a two-hour training session that offered tips on preventing tobacco sales to children and adolescents under 18.

The session was part of a statewide program in Ohio organized by the Coalition for Responsible Tobacco Retailing, according to the Cincinnati Post. The coalition includes four major tobacco companies, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the National Grocers Association (NGA).

Minors try to buy cigarettes "pretty much on a daily basis," said Maxine Persley, an assistant manager for Duncan Oil Corp. Inc. Beavercreek, Ohio-based chain that operates 28 stores.

The teen-agers often get angry and pressure the clerks to make cigarette sales, despite state and federal laws prohibiting them from doing so, Persley added.

Forcing minors to leave empty-handed is a matter of technique, said Kathryn Schimmel, who conducted the "We Card" training session. She suggested clerks use a four-part verbal rejection:
* "I'm sorry."
* "It's against the law."
* "I could be fined or fired."
* "Go get your ID, and I'll sell you the cigarettes."

To emphasize her point, Schimmel played the part of persistent teen-agers in a number of scenarios. She pretended to be the 17-year-old girlfriend of one clerk. No one else was in the store, she said, and nobody would see.

"Real world? You get your cigarettes," the clerk told her, causing a loud round of laughter, the report said.

The seminar dealt with other real world judgment calls, such as whether to sell to an adult who appears to be buying cigarettes for a minor waiting outside. Clerks, Schimmel said, can refuse to sell cigarettes to anyone they think may be buying for minors.
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